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What’s the SEO Value? Short vs. Long-Tail Keywords

How do potential customers find your company? If you’re like many business-to-business organizations, you may have limited time when it comes to marketing your services or products. A marketing strategy that’s particularly important for B2B companies is search engine optimization, or SEO. However, SEO rewards aren’t achieved overnight. It can be more time-consuming and requires consistent attention as search engines, like Google, continue to change on a yearly and even monthly basis.

What is SEO?

Depending on your experience in marketing or sales, you might know the basics or even more in-depth information about SEO. Overall, SEO consists of the methods used to boost the ranking or value of a website in search engine results to increase visitor traffic to your site.

Extensive keyword research is an initial step to determine which keywords your potential customers are searching for and will ultimately give your company’s website better ranking, making it easier for your target audience to find your business. Keyword options include very broad, super descriptive and every variation in between.

First, let’s define the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords. Short tail, or head keywords, are 3 words or less and typically offer a broader search for the user. One example might be “marketing agency”. If you search for this term, you will likely find a broader range of results. In contrast, a long-tail keyword is more than 3 words and provides more specific results. An example of this might be “content marketing agency in Northeast Ohio”. This search focuses on an agency as well as location. While both types of keywords can be used in your marketing strategy, there are benefits to using each.

Short-Tail Keywords

Attracting a higher volume of website visitors to your website is the main benefit of targeting short-tail keywords in your SEO strategy. These broader keywords are also much more competitive. Other areas that make these keywords less effective include:

  • Poor Traffic Quality – While these keywords have the potential to bring more visitors to your site, they may not be the qualified prospects you want.
  • High Cost – If you’re using advertising, like Google Ads, the cost for short-tail keywords is also extremely competitive.
  • Low Site Engagement – Short-tail keywords, because they are so broad, will attract some visitors that are not interested in your specific product or service, leading to very short visitor sessions and higher bounce rates.

Long-Tail Keywords

While long-tail keywords will generate a lower volume of visitors, this is a benefit for a B2B company, striving to reach a more targeted audience. In addition, long-tail keywords can provide positive results in these areas:

  • Low Competition – Since you are targeting very specific keywords, your website has a greater chance of ranking higher in search engine page results.
  • Better Focus – With more focus on the keywords your specific audience is searching for, your site is more likely to attract the customers that will benefit from your business.
  • Low Cost – For keywords that are less in demand, the paid search costs will typically be lower than short-tail keywords.
  • Improved Site Engagement – Most importantly, you’ll see better session duration lengths, lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates, as visitors to your site are looking for the specific product or service you offer.

Quality Over Quantity

Ultimately, the type of keywords you use will be determined by your marketing strategy goals and the types of customers you’re seeking. Regardless of which type of keywords you focus on, it’s vital to consider that 10 strong, targeted keywords are much more valuable for your business than using 50 keywords to pull in more visitors, who ultimately might not find the information they’re searching for on your site.

Curious about how an SEO strategy kicks-off? Learn about our discovery, auditing and planning process.


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About the Author

Beth Kereszturi

Beth is our VP of Digital Marketing Strategy who, besides drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, helps clients generate more business. Whether they’ve partnered with Proximity Marketing for a decade or just joined the family, Beth helps clients achieve success and achieve measurable results.